If you thought you had until 2012 to accomplish everything on your bucket list before the coming End of Days, you better hurry up. The Mayan prophecy may be coming a little early.
It looks like the end of the world may begin in Arkansas. On New Year’s Eve, just as the old year was about to give way to the new, the skies over Beebe, AR started raining red-winged blackbirds. As many as 5,000 birds fell on the town just before the stroke of midnight, all of them stone dead:
The birds had fallen Friday night over a 1-mile area of Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area. The workers from U.S. Environmental Services started the cleanup Saturday.
“I’ve been to Iraq and back and not seen nothing like this,” Beebe resident Jeff Drennan told local Fox16 News on Sunday.
Signs that seem like they’re straight out of the Book of Revelation aren’t exactly common in any part of the world. Scientists say that the birds likely died because of a lightning strike or a high altitude hail storm, not that any rational explanation will deter nutjobs trying to find signs the End of Days are nigh.
UPDATE: According to a report out Monday, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesperson Keith Stephens “said the birds showed evidence of trauma in the breast tissue, with blood clots in the body cavity and a lot of internal bleeding.” Karen Rowe, an ornithologist for the game and fish commission, “said the incident is not that unusual and is often caused by a lightning strike or high-altitude hail.”
To further add fuel to the Armageddon fire, news then broke that 100,000 drum fish were found dead in the Arkansas river just 125 miles east of where the blackbirds fell. According to CNN:
Dead drum fish floated in the water and lined the banks of a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Ozark, about 125 miles northwest of Little Rock, said Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. A tugboat operator discovered the fish kill Thursday night, and fisheries officials collected some of the dying animals to conduct tests.
What a terrifying way to start the new year. Here’s the video from CNN for the complete story:
According to experts, also known as buzzkillers, the fish probably died as a result of disease, since it was only one type of fish. It’s also apparently not even that unusual for large numbers of fish to die off, though usually not in such high numbers.
Even so, it’s nice to know that as we start a new year the religious zealots will have one more thing to point to as proof that the end of the world is on its way and God is ready to punish us all for our sins.
UPDATE: Perhaps the best post-script to this story is that CNN is taking this End of Days thing seriously, and bookers over at Anderson Cooper’s show offered a spot to former child star/Left Behind believer Kirk Cameron. Cameron didn’t exactly know why he was booked on the show, saying, “Well, I first think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me. You know, I’m not the religious conspiracy theorist go-to guy particularly. But I think it’s really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with some kind of an end-times theory.” A little awkward, a lot awesome.
When Kirk Cameron’s your voice of reason, you know you took this in the wrong direction, CNN.
UPDATE II: We’ve had a ton of traffic lately from Google searches for “End of Days” or “End times” combined with “Birds” and “Fish.” Mostly everyone’s coming to see what this story’s all about: Fish are turning up dead and birds are dropping from the sky. But it gets worse. Now we’re seeing reports of 15 tons of dead fish turning up in Brazil and a carpet of dead snapper in New Zealand, along with more birds falling from the sky in Louisiana. It’s important to remember, these things all have legitimate biological explanations. This is not the End of Days. This is simply God’s way of telling us it *might* be the End of Days. That is all. Here’s the latest on the LA bird kill:
UPDATE III: Even more birds are falling from the sky. Now Sweden’s in the mix:
UPDATE IV: Now British crabs want in on the Aflockalypse…and a handy chart for you.